Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Take Time to Ponder

Date: August 27, 2013
Area: Simi Valley
Companion: Elder Hall

Hello everyone!

This week has been pretty good.  I still am amazed how fast time flies, but I'm enjoying it more than ever.

Megan is doing fine.  Last transfer, a couple of other elders began to teach her, and things were inappropriate between one of the missionaries and her.  The missionaries in the zone were aware that they were really close, but things got way out of control.  She supposedly was inside their apartment (which is a huge no-no) and while one missionary was in the bathroom, his companion kissed her.  He tried to keep it a secret, but things blew up quick and before he knew it everyone found out.  President Castro was here in Simi Valley and interviewed him for hours.  Long story short, he's lucky he didn't get sent home, but he did get transferred out of here and he is under tight guard by the mission president. Consequently, we are not able to teach Megan anymore, and she is now being taught by the Zone Leaders.  President Castro said it was "for our own good" and I'm glad he did that, but it stinks not having Megan around anymore.

Coincidentally, we had a talk with Megan the day before and we said that if we took Elder so and so and us out of the picture, would she still get baptized?  Unfortunately, she didn't give us a straight up answer, but personally, I think she might make it through.  She's experienced the effects of the Spirit, and she has a really strong testimony of this church and the Book of Mormon.  We pray that she will make it, but as of right now, she will not be baptized September 8th.  It doesn't matter when, as long as she does.  It always seems that things come up as soon as we set someone with a date.  Although it is discouraging, I know that things will work out for the better.

Everyone's asking about Michael!  Wow!  Spiritually, Michael isn't progressing that much, as far as going to church, but we do go over there every now and again and talk Gospel conversation.  Elder Hall and I both agree that we do not want to stop contact completely, because we don't want to give him the impression that our friendship is conditional upon his church attendance; we do stress it quite often though.  He'll catch on eventually.  Friday night we went over there and we started a campfire in his backyard.  I took a picture, and I said, "It's the moment when cave men discovered fire!"  He's so funny, he kept bugging me about some pizza that I had, and I eventually just forfeited it over to him.  He's like a 40 year-old brother to us, it's hilarious.  I loved sitting out underneath the stars looking up and just thinking about what God might have in store for me in my life.  I am so thankful for the connection I have developed with Him while I have been out here.  I've seen His light shine in the lives of others, and I've felt His influence in my own life.

This week has been filled with LOTS of meaningful service.  We helped Melanie with her front yard some, and we also helped Michael with his front yard.  And on Saturday, we had 32 different people from the ward help out at Melanie's!  It was great!  I'm learning tons of new construction techniques.  I have put up dry wall, installed floating floors, built a patio cover, and mudded a wall.  I hope to continue learning!

I'm also sending a picture of Chuck and his family.

I love you all so much.  Keep living the gospel, it's the happiest way to live.

Elder Harper
Chuck and his family


Monday, August 19, 2013

There must needs be opposition in all things

Date: August 19, 2013
Area: Simi Valley
Companion: Elder Hall

Hello everyone!
It's unbelievable how often it seems like I am on the computer
emailing back home.  The weeks are just blowing by.  In my first email, I
mentioned that physical handwritten letters would be best, but we have a
system that works out here now that we can print out the emails for
free at this FHC.  So, although they are nice to have, it's not the end
of the world if all that's possible is email.  I want to hear from
everyone I can!

I know I've said this every week, but Megan is amazing!  She's
still going strong and she knows that the Church is true.  Last week we
taught her a lesson at the bishop's home, and he offered to give her a
blessing later that night.  So that night we went back to his house, and
the bishop told her all about the priesthood and how a blessing works
by faith.  We then stood up and he offered her one of the most powerful
blessings I've ever heard.  He blessed her that her family's hearts
would be softened and that everything would be ok.  The next day, her
mom called her and told her that no matter what happens, she's fine as
long as it brings her happiness.  That blessing was answered, and she
recognized that!  On Friday
we all went to 7/11 to get some slurpees, and on our way out, we were
approached by a chaplain from another church and this is what he said to
us.  "You cannot go around teaching people unless you know the answer
to the most basic and fundamental question in the universe."  We asked
him what that was, and he said, "How many lifeforms are there in the
universe?"  Elder Hall and I looked at each other, not knowing how that
even mattered and asked him to tell us.  He said, "There's 4.  There's
Deity, angels and demons, humans, and animals."  We basically just
stared at him and he kept telling us that we can't go around teaching
people.  We basically just blew him off and invited him study about what
we believe.  He attacked Megan next and basically he just thought we
were taking advantage of her and she told him that everything we've
taught her we've proven biblically and she knows it's right and true.
 She is incredible!  *Tear They grow up so fast... :)

Do you know what the better news is???  We set her with a baptismal date!  She's planning on being baptized September 8th, just two days before transfer Tuesday.
 She has to go to Church every week between now and then, but we KNOW
that this will work out!  We are so happy that we have had the chance to
meet her and teach her.  However, she is going through some tough times
right now.  This morning, she called us and told us that we needed to
see her.  She started to tell us that her mom is going back on what she
told her earlier, and she doesn't like that Megan is meeting with us.
 All of the sudden, her mom called.  She put her on speakerphone, and
her mom just kept telling Megan "Cult, cult, cult".  Megan's mom REALLY
hates us, and the high school youth pastor is going over to their house
today to talk with Megan.  We don't think that this is an appropriate
time for us to go over there, but Megan knows that this is true, and
she's standing up for it.

Elder Hall and I were talking that every time we run into someone
from another church, they always attempt to tear down what we believe.
 After they leave, we always question what church they were from.  They
are so focused on bashing us that they never build up on what they
believe, it's so stupid.

I love being the Lord's servant, and every time we are approached
by someone and they bash us, my conviction grows that much stronger.  We
are doing great!


Elder Harper

Corey opening a package we sent him

Monday, August 12, 2013

Lesson learned: Don't pull the front tire break...

Date: August 12, 2013
Area: Simi Valley
Companion: Elder Hall

Dear Family and Friends,

Wow, another week has come
and gone.  Before I left, I would always hear everybody say that time
goes super fast when you're on a mission, but I never believed them.
 However, now I see how fast time really goes when you're in the Lord's
work, and I don't want to let any second pass me by.  Thank you all for
your letters, they brighten my day so much!  It was nice to get a letter
from Mom, Dad, Aubree, Grandma and Grandpa, Cameron, Alexis, the
Lomeli's a few weeks ago, and Carolyn a few days ago.  Letters mean
soooo much to missionaries it's insane!  So, thanks.

This week, a lot of our investigators were out of
town, and so it seemed like the days went a little slower than usual.
 This week, we visited a less-active man in our ward named Ben.  He was
ordained a priest but then got into some trouble and was sent to prison
for 7 years and is all tatted up.  When we dropped by, he surprisingly
let us in.  After we got talking for a few minutes, he told us that the
only reason we got in was because of the tattoo on Elder Hall's arm.  I
asked him if I came alone if he would let me in or not, and he said I'd
be screwed.  A tender mercy from the Lord, I guess.  Anyways Ben works
for a pest control company in Ventura and he said he's worked on a few
projects for Justin Bieber and Sylvester Stallone.  So cool.  He told us
some missionaries in the past told him he wouldn't be able to go
through the temple with as many tattoos has he has, and I just wanted to
punch them.  I hate it when people get told things like this, because
quite frankly, it scars people.  There's nothing more beautiful to see
than a person in the temple covered in tattoos.  It means someone has
changed their life and used the Atonement.

Megan is the bomb as usual!  On her way to North Dakota on Monday and Tuesday,
she would text us every time she saw a temple in UT or ID (about every 2
minutes... :P) and she would just freak out!  She told us that she
would get all tingly and get goosebumps and that she would just get so
happy inside and that she couldn't wait to get sealed in their someday.
 The prospect of eternal marriage is a big favorite of her's.  She said
"It may be just because I'm a girl, but I love that!"  We quickly
explained to her that we couldn't wait to get sealed in the temple for
time and all eternity either!  On Tuesday,
we had an off and on 4 hour lesson with her over the phone!  She was
going through Montana at the time, so the service would always cut out.
(Satan uses every method he can to postpone the work) but it was great!
 She has read all of the introduction, and she read all of 1 Nephi.  She
called us and told us, "Elders, I'm a little confused about Lehi's
Dream and I have some questions about it.  He saw 9 things and I just
want to get what they mean."  Boom, boom, boom she told us everything
Lehi saw!  Elder Hall and I were bouncing off the walls!  We are in love
with this girl!  (Well, you know what I mean...)  We gave her
scriptures to back up everything we said and she is just absorbing it
all like a sponge.  We made her a little box with pictures of the temple
on it and we're going to give it to her tomorrow.
 She's bringing us presents back from ND to so we can't argue with
that. :)  Speaking of presents, Wendy's family (the one I talked about
last week) went to Hawaii and their 16 year-old son texted us and asked
what we wanted from Hawaii!  Yes, we're getting pampered...we're getting
sandals that are only available in Hawaii.  Don't worry, we'll pay him

Also!  We went to a garage sale this week, and I got
nice, gray pinstripe suit for $5!  Not only that, but it fits me
perfectly!  I'm going to go to a lot more garage sales from now on....I
got so many compliments about it at church yesterday.  Studilicious. :P

Wow, so much more to say.  OK, so on Saturday
we were talking to Chuck at his work, and out of the blue, my tire
deflated.  I wasn't even moving, but alas, it deflated.  Luckily there
was a store nearby and they replaced everything.  They tightened my
front brake REALLY tight, and we rode off.  That night after dinner, we
were going to go up to see a lady me met last week, and as we were
crossing the intersection, the light turned yellow and so I hurried to
go faster.  I made it to the opposite side of the road and the light
turned red.  I pulled my front handle brake too fast, my front tire
stopped, but my momentum kept going.  I flew UP AND OVER my handlebars
and landed on my stomach.  My elbow was bleeding like crazy, I got some
roadrash on my legs, and twisted my wrist but everything else was fine.
 My handlebar bent 90 degrees and the end of it was touching the neck,
but that could have been my arm!  I was so grateful I was OK.  An old
lady was stopped and when I got up, she said "Take your time honey!"
 Then a car full of teenagers sped by and rolled down their windows and
pointed and laughed at me, but whatevs. :D  Once in a lifetime
experience!  YOSO.

This week, we were setting up some new convert
lessons with Emily, the girl that was baptized the first week I was
here, and across the street was a little old Cherokee lady that was
working in her yard.  We asked if she needed help, and she approached us
and said, "Who sent you guys, besides God?"  After a brief pause, we
said, "No, just God."  The next day, we came back with a priest in the
ward and dug trenches for her and helped her transport plants and lots
of other exciting things in her yard.  I have developed a love for
service.  Before I left, I'm not going to lie, but I was a little
reluctant when it came to service.  Big surprise, I know.......but now,
I've changed so much.  When I get back, I want to spend so much time
serving others that I have no time for myself.  I don't always have the
necessary skills to serve in a full capacity, but I will learn so that I
can.  That's one thing that I would thank Elder Hall for.  We've served
so many people out here it's crazy.  We were called to SERVE right?
 What is the purpose of life other than to make life's journeys of
others easier?  I would say that that is one thing that has changed
about me as I've been out.  I will serve others from dawn to dusk if I
needed to, because that's what being a disciple of Christ means.  After
all, King Benjamin proclaimed, "When ye are in the service of your
fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God" (Mosiah 2:17).
 I'm sorry for selfish attitude I had, but now I'm a new man.  You can
count on me.  I grasped the meaning on a deeper level from a line in my
patriarchal blessing that says:  "Your service as a home teacher, and as
a future missionary, husband, and father is and will be enhanced by
your faithful, diligent, loving service." I swear to live up to this
promise from the Lord. 

I love the Lord.  I love His children.  I love all
of you.  I love the examples each of you have set for me, and I'm
thankful for the loving service which has been given in my behalf.

Until next week, 

Elder Harper

Monday, August 5, 2013

2 Months? Say wha--?

Date: August 05, 2013
Area: Simi Valley
Companion: Elder Hall

Hello Family and Friends!

This week was absolutely spectacular!  It's going to be a shorter email, but I'll try to pack in as much awesomeness as I can!

Missionaries from another ward ran into a guy and started to teach
him, and he told them to visit his girlfriend's house.  Her house was in
our boundaries, and the only information we had was that it was on a
particular street with a white Ford F-250 out front.  Luckily, we caught
them at a time when both of them were home and outside.  She invited us
back over to dinner with them last Wednesday.  She's in her 40's has a
16 year old son and a 14 year old daughter and they are SOLID.  When we
went over there for dinner, all 4 of them had so many questions about
missionary rules and stuff and it was so cool to answer their questions.
 In the past they had some missionaries that helped them paint their
deck and so they had some great experiences with them.  Right now, they
are in Hawaii but they will be coming back next week and we will start
teaching them!

ALSO we made contact with a GOLDEN investigator this week.  Megan
is a 19 year-old who is a general manager at Five Guys and she also
works at a place called Rocketfizz (it's a vintage soda/candy store).
 Anyways, she was in a relationship with a guy that was atheist and she
stopped going to church because of him.  After she dumped him, she
started going back to church and she asked the pastor to say a prayer
for her.  After he did that, she asked if she could say a prayer for
herself.  She prayed that God would send her someone who could help her
in her life that could teach her.  She said that she wanted them to
teach her but that she wouldn't know that they were teaching her so she
wouldn't send them away.  A couple of days later, 2 other missionaries
met her at Rocketfizz and taught her the 10 Commandments with the little
hand motions.  After they left, she said, "Wait, they just taught me
the Ten Commandments!!"  Since then, they taught her a couple of things,
but then they got transferred.  She lives a few houses down from a
member that she has known for a long time (basically her grandma) and
started asking her a lot of questions about the Gospel and about Joseph
Smith.  This member called us on Friday
and said that "This was the kind of call you always wish you had".  She
set up a time for us to meet, and we taught her the Restoration and
watched the DVD and she loved it!  She has been reading the Book of
Mormon and praying about it and things are looking up!  Yesterday Elder
Hall and I taught her the Plan of Salvation in the park with some little
primary visual aides that we made and she was laughing so hard and she
thought it was cute that we did that for her.   Her parents are REALLY
anti-Mormon.  They drove by while we were in the park yesterday and they
gave us some really nasty looks.  She really likes the idea of temple
marriage and being sealed so someone for time and all eternity, and as
well as baptisms for the dead.  We shared with her 1 Corinthians 15:29,
40-42 to help her see how the concepts fit biblically.  Right now as I
type she is heading to North Dakota to drop her grandparents off and
staying there for a week and is doing scripture study in the car! She
just sent us a text asking me where that scripture was!  She's so
awesome and she will be baptized without a doubt.  I heard somewhere
that 100 door slams = 1 golden investigator and that totally makes
sense.  The Lord has blessed us with this opportunity and it feels so
nice to teach someone who grasps concepts, keeps commitments and isn't
afraid to ask us questions and actually takes it seriously!   In a
nutshell, this week rocked.

I love you all!  Being a missionary is the best decision I have
ever made in my life.  My testimony has grown so much and I am thankful
for experiences like this that help it grow more!  Pray for Megan!  Have
a great week!

Elder Harper